Women’s basketball: Bears excited about trip to China . . . well, most of it, anyway

From New Orleans and a first-ever trip to the Final Four last spring, the Cal women’s basketball team resumes action next week with three exhibition games in China.

But the 10-day adventure is as much about team bonding and cultural adventure as basketball.

Senior guard Afure Jemerigbe said she is excited about walking on the Great Wall and bargain-hunting at Beijing’s famed Silk Market.

“Especially the shopping,” echoed Brittany Boyd, a junior all-Pac-12 guard. “Everything’s a little cheaper out there than the U.S.”

Coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who has heard stories about the aggressive vendors at the Silk Market, said, “I think our players will be able to hold their own in the shopping department,” she said.

Boyd isn’t as confident she’s ready to confront the irregularities of Chinese indoor plumbing. “I hear it’s like a little hole in the ground,” she said of the restrooms. “I’m a little nervous about that.”

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Women’s basketball: 2-year extension for Gottlieb

Lindsay Gottlieb, who guided the Cal women’s basketball team to its first Final Four appearance last season, has been rewarded with a two-year contract extension through the 2017-18 season.

“Each and every day that I come to work, I am honored to be the head women’s basketball coach at the top public institution in the world,” Gottlieb said. “I get to coach tremendous young women and work with smart, passionate, committed people, both on my staff and in our athletic department.

“I am thrilled to sign this extension with the University of California, and I am beyond grateful for the belief in me demonstrated by Sandy Barbour and Chancellor Dirks.”

Gottlieb has led the Bears to a 57-14 record in her first two seasons, including a school-record 32-4 in 2012-13, when she was a National Naismith Coach of the Year finalist.

NOTE: I will be at the Pac-12 football media day Friday and will file reports at BearTalk, on Twitter (CalBearsBang) and at our websites: www.insidebayarea.com/sports, www.mercurynews.com/sports and www.cctimes.com/sports.  





Tom Shields (swimming), Layshia Clarendon (basketball) earn Pac-12 Hansen Medals

W-Basketball Portraits 20122012 Men's Swimming 

Swimmer Tom Shields and basketball star Layshia Clarendon are Cal’s recipients of the 2012-13 Pac-12 Tom Hansen Conference Medal winners for achievement by a senior athlete in scholarship, athletics and leadership.

Shields led the Golden Bears to a victory at the Pac-12 championships, where they snapped Stanford’s 31-year hold on the conference title. Shields was named Swimmer of the Meet after winning five events and finishing second in a sixth.

At the NCAA championships, he won the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard fly, tying Michael Phelps’ national record in the longer event. Shields and the Bears finished second in the team competition, with Shields pushing his career total to 11 NCAA titles.

Clarendon led the Cal women to their first Final Four, averaging 21.4 points in five NCAA tournament games. The first-team all-Pac-12 guard averaged 16.4 points for the season, spearheading the Bears’ charge to a record-setting 32-4 season.



Women’s basketball: Gray named to U.S. squad

Cal junior forward Reshanda Gray was named to the USA Women’s World University Games roster and will participate in the event at Kazan, Russia, July 8-15.

Gray averaged 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds as a sophomore last season. She will train with the USA team from June 25 through July 1 in Colorado Springs.

Cal senior Gennifer Brandon also took part in the team tryouts, which ended Sunday. Brandon was not chosen to the 12-player roster 

Here’s a Q&A with Gray, courtesy of USA Basketball:

What was your initial reaction when they called your name?
“I was nervous. I was having butterflies. I was locked arms with my teammate Gennifer [Brandon], and I was just telling her, ‘Make the team or not, this is just a learning experience for us to get better.’ We’re just very thankful and blessed to be here. I’m one of the top 33 college players in the country, just being able to be here and try. I just want to cry right now. I’m so emotional because we worked so hard, and I just give props to my teammate Genn. She definitely pushed me, and I just give props to everybody back home for sending good vibes and good luck wishes.”

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Women’s basketball: Clarendon picked No. 9 in WNBA draft by defending champ Indiana Fever

Guard Layshia Clarendon, who led Cal to its first women’s Final Four appearance, was chosen No. 9 by the defending champion Indiana Fever in the WNBA draft.

Clarendon was a two-time all-Pac-12 selection and helped the Bears to their first conference title. She is considered a strong leader and good defender with an effective mid-range scoring game.

Clarendon became the highest-drafted Cal player and just the third Golden Bear to be drafted by the league, following in the footsteps of Ashley Walker (2009, No. 12 in 2009) and Alexis Gray-Lawson (No. 30 in 2010).

 “It’s exciting (to play for Indiana),” Clarendon said. “I’ve always been a part of underdog teams and now I’m a defending champion by default. I’m excited to play with my fellow Pac-10/Pac-12 sisters (Briann) January and Jeannette Pohlen.”

As expected, the top three selections in the WNBA draft were Baylor’s Brittney Griner (Phoenix), Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne (Chicago) and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins (Tulsa).


Women’s basketball: Bears fall in Final Four

Up 10 points at halftime, the Cal women’s basketball team lost 64-57 to Louisville in the national semifinals at New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.

Click here for staff writer Stephanie Hammon’s story and a photo slideshow.

Cal shot 58 percent in the first half, then was taken out of its transition game and struggled offensively. The Bears turned the ball over 19 times and were just 4 for 15 from the 3-point line. They also never dealt with Louisville sharpshooter Antonita Slaugher, who shot 6 for 10 from the 3-point arc and scored 18 points.

Cal, which finished its greatest season with a 32-4 record, was led by senior guard Layshia Clarendon, with 17 points.

Louisville (29-8) advances to Tuesday’s national championship game against UConn, which routed Notre Dame 83-65, the day after the Cardinals’ men’s team faces Michigan for the NCAA crown.


Women’s basketball: Bears set for Louisville

Can the Cal women accomplish what the Wichita State men could not do, and advance past Louisville into the championship game of the Final Four?

Here’s our preview package of today’s semifinal matchup in New Orleans:

Click here for staff writer Stephanie Hammon’s story on the maturation of Cal sophomore guard Brittany Boyd.

Here is Hammon’s Final Four notebook, including Louisville’s plans for defending Cal star Layshia Clarendon.

And if you haven’t read it, check out Elliott Almond’s profile on Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb.


From the Louisville Courier-Journal, here’s a story on Cardinals’ star Shoni Schimmel, who has averaged 20 points in nine career postseason games and had the memorable stare-down of 6-foot-8 Baylor star Brittney Griner.


Courtesy of ESPN, here’s an analysis of today’s matchup by the network’s four primary women’s basketball experts: Doris Burke, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck:

On No. 2 seed California

Burke: Lindsay Gottlieb is one of the exciting young coaches in women’s college basketball. She is a passionate, dynamic and a positive force with her team. The Bears have a terrific backcourt with Brittany Boyd and Layshia Clarendon, and a relentless commitment to the offensive glass. The team relies on its ability to get into the open floor and score off their defense. In the half court, Clarendon has to deliver for this team to have a chance to win.

Lawson: Cal is a loose and confident group. Their defense and rebounding carry the day and Layshia Clarendon is a very difficult player to guard, fantastic in the mid-range game.

Lobo: The Golden Bears have found a way to win the close games during this tournament — beating their second-round and regional final opponents in overtime. They want to push tempo and have an athletic team that is built to run. Layshia Clarendon is a terrific break-down guard who can also score from three and their inside game is anchored by Gennifer Brandon, who averages 11 rebounds. Cal hits the glass hard and gets second opportunities as a result. They have struggled scoring at times this season against zone defenses and shoot only 61 percent from the free-throw line. I’m eager to see how they handle playing against Louisville’s different defensive schemes.

Peck: Lindsay Gottlieb has to be on cloud nine right now. Cal is dangerous; if the score is kept close, they are always in the position to win. The team is fast and physical, plus they are a defensive team. Layshia Clarendon is a rising star who makes clutch plays. Louisville has to be concerned about rebounding and defending Cal in the paint.

Note:  Lawson and Peck on Sunday morning’s “SportsCenter” both predicted Louisville will beat Cal.


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Women’s basketball: Bears head to New Orleans

The Cal women’s basketball team is on its way to the Final Four in New Orleans, where on Sunday it will face Louisville in the national semifinals.

Check out staff writer Elliott Almond’s excellent profile on Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who knew early she would have a life in basketball.

How will the Bears do on the nation’s biggest stage? They see no reason why they can’t win it all. Here’s the story.


Women’s basketball: Golden Bears rally past Georgia in overtime, earn first Final Four bid

President Obama had it right — the Cal women are Final Four bound for the first time.

The Golden Bears, down 10 points with less than 7 minutes left in the NCAA regional final at Spokane, Wash., rallied for a 65-62 overtime victory over the same Georgia team that knocked Stanford out of the tournament two days earlier.

“I knew this was possible,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “I believed in this group more than anyone ever, and I still can’t believe this in my wildest dreams.”

Cal (32-3) will play either Louisville or Tennessee in the national semifinal on Sunday at New Orleans.

Senior guard Layshia Clarendon scored 17 of her 25 points in the second half and overtime to spark the comeback. Talia Caldwell grabbed eight rebounds, leaving her two short of becoming just the third Cal player to accumulate 1,000 career points and rebounds. 

The Bears become the first West Coast team other than Stanford to make it to the Final Four in 25 years. During that time, either teams from the West reached the regional final, only to come up short.

Cal is just the third school from the Pac-12 to get there, joining Stanford and USC.

For details, check out staff writer Elliott Almond’s story from Spokane.

For Final Four ticket info, click here.


Women’s basketball: Bears roar into Elite 8

The Cal women did something no Golden Bears’ baskeball team — of either gender — has done since 1960.

And something five-time Final Four powerhouse Stanford couldn’t get done Saturday.

The Golden Bears moved into the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament with a 73-63 win over LSU at Spokane, Wash.

The second-seeded Bears (31-3) made it to the regional finals for the first time in school history.

With a win Monday over Georgia — a 61-59 winner over top-seeded Stanford — the Bears will play in their first Final Four.

“This for us is about who we want to be,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We’re not trying to out-Stanford Stanford.”

No Cal team has advanced this deep in the NCAA tournament since the Bears’ men reached the national championship in 1960.

Click here for staff writer Elliott Almond’s game story.